Getting a PCR test at the airport in Istanbul

This is the card that shows you how to check your Covid-19 test results. I covered my personal bar code with a bit of paper.

We’ve been through our share of bureaucratic processes in Turkey. Sometimes it’s easy and fast, sometimes it’s more complex and not so fast. So imagine our delight to find that getting a PCR test at Sabiha Gökçen Airport is quick, simple and very well organized. (Bet that’s the first time you ever saw the words “delight” and “PCR test” in the same sentence!)

If you want to skip the rest of this post, you can get complete information about Covid-19 testing at Sabiha Gökçen Airport here:

Covid-19 testing is also available 24/7 at Istanbul Airport, the larger of the two international airports in Istanbul. It’s also the airport where you arrive from Europe and many other locations. Covid testing information can be found here:

We already knew the testing center at Sabiha Gökçen was open 24/7, so as soon as we got off our flight from Antalya, we went over to the center. It’s conveniently located near the shuttle meeting point, right next to the highly visible McDonald’s sign. Everything is so well signposted at Sabiha Gökçen, you won’t have any trouble finding it.

The first step is to pay for the test. You can choose the fast test or the PCR test. We needed the PCR test to get into the United States. The PCR test costs TL 250, which is equivalent to about USD 30 as I’m writing this. You can pay in cash or by credit card in Turkish lira, dollars or euros.

Once you’ve paid for the test, you take the receipt to the next window to get the little vial for your test sample, a card telling you how to get your results, and your own identifying bar code. Then you go over to the test station, stand in front of a plastic barrier, and get swabbed.

I’d been warned that the swab was “not pleasant.” The throat swab was nothing, but the nasal swab was another matter. Painful doesn’t really describe it; I’d say it was surreal. It felt like a thin, thin needle was entering my brain, and oddly, it made me cough.

I went over to Alan, who’d already been swabbed. “That was very delicately done,” he said. I guess our pain thresholds are different.

We went on to the ISG hotel, where we’d booked a room for overnight. Three hours after we’d been swabbed, I checked our results, using the barcode and our passport numbers. We both had negative results, which was a relief.

We had plenty of time before our flight the next day, so we went over to the test center before checking our luggage to pick up the paper copy of our PCR test results. (Many countries require a paper copy of your negative Covid-19 test result.) These did not cost extra; you just have to present the same card they gave you to check your results. So DO NOT THROW OUT YOUR CARD after you get the good news.

I spotted this poster while waiting to board our flight from İstanbul to Doha. Too bad we didn’t know yesterday that we could get a PCR test at the ISG hotel. But now you know.

2 thoughts on “Getting a PCR test at the airport in Istanbul

  1. Agnes Franklin April 23, 2021 / 8:23 am

    It’s interesting reading how the swabbing is done, thank you!


    • Aliza April 23, 2021 / 9:21 pm

      You’re so welcome, Agnes! Hope you’re well.


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